“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”
What is the most important thing in your life? What do you make primary in your life above all else? I believe if we honestly assess where we spend our time, our money, and our energy the answer becomes very revealing in answering that question. Once you determine what you have placed 1st in your life, then the question becomes should that be 1st in my life?
If you are like me, here are a number of things that could be 1st in your life, because they have been for me. Family, spouse, future spouse, career, car, house, kids, retirement, sports and the list can go on and on… Should these things be primary in my life? I would argue that they should not. And if they are, you are setting your self up for failure. While these things can be good things they were never meant to be god things.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 27.37 that the greatest command in all of the Scripture is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” In other words Jesus is saying that our love and affection should be given to God as the most important thing in all of our life. In fact this means that our life should be a reflection of this. God should be the all-consuming reason for everything we do.
The danger comes when we take 2nd things and make them 1st things and believe this is the way things should be. For example if I seek to love my wife as the 1st and most important thing in my then life I am setting my marriage up for failure. Why? This is because I will never love her as much as I could if God was not ultimately 1st in my life. Here is what I mean by that: since God has the greatest capacity to love in this world when we love God first we tap into the unending wellspring of love that only he can give. Outside of God my love is limited by my own selfishness, and my wife is in danger of being crushed under the weight of my expectations for her even on my best of days.
However, when my love is rooted deeply in God 1st, my love is not a list of demands, but an act of service because I am receiving love from God above all else. God gives me the capacity to love my wife and my kids selflessly. This means that I am freed to serve them, to be inconvenienced by them, to even be sinned against by them because of the unending and boundless love of God.
This principle states that if we put 2nd things 1st, we will never experience those things as intended. God made these things for our joy, but not to complete our joy. Only Jesus can do that, and if we look to these 2nd things things to bring fulfillment we will never find it and always wonder why we can never be satisfied.
Jesus demonstrates this principle.
Romans 5.8 tells us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He did not make a list of demands for us to meet in order to win the love of God, in fact he fulfilled the list of demands for us. This is true love, John 4.10 “not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Because of our sin we cannot love God unless God makes a way for us to love him. In our sin we have put other things over and above God. For this reason we are separated from the love of a perfect and holy God. But because God the Father was motivated by love he sent God the Son to satisfy the righteous requirement for our sin. This means that we should be punished and that punishment should be death physically, spiritually, and eternally in hell. While this is what we deserve, Jesus got what we deserve, and has given us what only he deserves. What does Jesus deserve? Everything, but namely the ability to put God 1st in heart, in our mind, and in all that we do and say.
The right ordering of our lives
Not only did Jesus die for me, but he defeated death for me in his resurrection. In doing so he gives me the freedom to love God above all else and enjoy the world around me as God meant for it to be enjoyed. This work of Christ empowers me to not idolize my wife, but love her whole heartedly under the Lordship of Christ. She is a joy that God has given me to experience and is a good thing but never needs to be a god thing. When we put first things first we get 2nd things thrown in. When we put 2nd things first we don’t even get the 2nd things.
Questions that help us determine when God is 1st.
1. Have you come to the realization that Jesus died for your sins, and that a part from him you deserve death?
2. Does the work of Christ mean something to you on a daily basis? Do you allow your emotions, decisions, and daily activity to be viewed though a work of Christ?
3. Do you read God’s word, trust God’s word, and obey God’s word?
Where do we go from here?
1. Pray for the Holy Spirit make the work of God through Jesus and His Word alive in your heart and life.
2. Ask a godly man or woman to pour into you, to invest in you, to disciple you.
3. Teach others the truth God is working in you, no matter how far you have to grow God can use you to invest in others.